Story by Jessica Soo/Red Sports, with additional reporting by Erwin Wong and Iman Hashim/Red Sports. Photos by Iman Hashim and Julianna Jothi/Red Sports.
Bedok Reservoir, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 — For a historic first time, Methodist Girls’ School (MGS) swept two out of a possible two divisional titles at the National Schools Cross Country Championships.
MGS secured the team championship in the Girls’ B and C divisions, with victory margins of five and nine points against nearest rivals Cedar Girls’ and CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ respectively. Team scores are computed by adding up the positions of each team’s top four runners, with a lower score translating to a higher ranking.
Guided by accomplished coach Steven Quek, the MGS girls’ victories are historically only their third for each division, adding to the school’s B Division triumphs in 2001 and 2008 and C Division triumphs in 2007 and 2013. This is also only the fourth time since 2000 that a school has swept both B and C girls’ titles, replicating the feats of Commonwealth Secondary in 2002 and 2004 and Raffles Girls’ School in 2015.
Quek had also coached those title-winning Commonwealth teams in 2002 and 2004, and notably steered Hwa Chong Institution to an A Division boys’ and girls’ sweep this year and a grand slam of A-B-C boys’ and A girls’ titles last year, Raffles Institution to a similar grand slam in 2014, and River Valley High School to B girls’ titles in 2011 and 2014 and C girls’ titles in 2010 and 2012.
“It’s not magic,” said Quek of his stellar track record. “There’s potential in every school. There’s potential in every child. So we work hard, we develop this potential, whether it’s MGS, Commonwealth, River Valley, Raffles, Hwa Chong. All the same.”
When asked about his recipe for success, he simply replied: “A lot of self-discipline and hard work.”
In the C Division girls’ race, MGS’ title charge was led by Hannah Tong and Alyssa Lauren Xavier, who achieved a one-two finish with times of 16 minutes 19.3 seconds and 16:30.6 respectively over the 3.8-kilometre race route.
Hannah also turned out to be MGS’ first cross country individual champion since Clara Wong in the 2009 B Division and first one in the C Division since Dawn Chia in 1998. Coincidentally, Dawn Chia had also led MGS to a one-two finish in that race.
Speaking about Alyssa and herself, Hannah shared: “We were just focusing on completing the race. We didn’t think we could maintain first and second, but I’m really glad that it happened.”
Regarding the team victory, the girls maintained that the result was unexpected as well.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to win, as we all focused on getting the experience,” Alyssa pitched in. “Also, one of our teammates, Natalie, had asthma and Megan got a torn ligament and couldn’t compete.”
Nonetheless, their teammate Natalie Lim went on to clock a time of 17:38.6 to secure 16th place, while swimmer Jessiree Kwok finished fifth in 17:08.7 to ensure MGS scored a total of 24 points, just nine better than second-place CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’.
Interestingly, none of the MGS cross country girls across both divisions took part in last month’s National Schools Track and Field Championships — which meant that they were a team solely focused on cross country, yet also relatively inexperienced in racing.
Hannah and Alyssa attributed their success to the team spirit in MGS, a sentiment shared by their seniors who competed in the B Division.
“I believe that the team spirit was the crucial factor that led to a team victory for MGS,” said Ooi Zhewei, who secured sixth position in the B Division girls’ race with a time of 16:31.4.
“We encouraged each other whenever we feel tired, and that helped us to push through the tough trainings,” added Zhiwei, whose teammates Katelyn Tan, Charlene Goh and Erica Chan placed 10th, 12th and 16th respectively to tally their score to 44 points and edge out Cedar Girls’ by a mere five points.
Cedar’s Claudia Tang, the recent track 1500m champion and last year’s C Division cross country champion, took the B Division individual crown with a time of 15:53.7, while Alyssa Yeong of North Vista Secondary and Enastasia Koh of Dunman High School finished second and third respectively.
C Division Girls’ Individual Results – Top 10
1st Hannah Tong Minyi (#6168, Methodist Girls’ School) — 16:19.3
2nd Alyssa Lauren Xavier (#6164, Methodist Girls’ School) — 16:30.6
3rd Ng Shi Ying Kayla (#6125, Guangyang Secondary) — 16:32.8
4th Chan Shi Kai (#6055, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School) — 16:33.2
5th Jessiree Kwok Jie Ning (#6171, Methodist Girls’ School) — 17:08.7
6th Lim Qian Hui (#6310, Unity Secondary) — 17:18.0
7th Natalie Tan Li Ying (#6057, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School) — 17:20.5
8th Ng Rui Shi (#6261, Raffles Girls’ School) — 17:21.2
9th Kristel Koh Xiulin (#6058, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School) — 17:24.2
10th Yap Yi Jun Jaime (#6260, Raffles Girls’ School) — 17:25.7
C Division Girls’ Team Results – Top 4
1st Methodist Girls’ School — 24 points
2nd CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School — 33 points
3rd Cedar Girls’ Secondary — 101 points
4th Nanyang Girls’ High School — 109 points
B Division Girls’ Individual Results – Top 10
1st Tang Ning Xuan Claudia (#4040, Cedar Girls’ Secondary) — 15:53.7
2nd Alyssa Yeong Xin Yi (#4194, North Vista Secondary) — 16:05.3
3rd Enastasia Koh Ye (#4095, Dunman High School) — 16:15.8
4th Brina Goh Yu Yun (#4097, Dunman High School) — 16:25.6
5th Alexis So Hui Jun (#4055, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School) — 16:26.3
6th Ooi Zhewei (#4157, Methodist Girls’ School) — 16:31.4
7th Tan Kylie (#4039, Cedar Girls’ Secondary) — 16:34.0
8th Felis Tan Le Yao (#4087, Crescent Girls’ School) — 16:36.4
9th Ong Minn Shuen (#4171, Nan Hua High School) — 16:36.4
10th Katelyn Tan Si Qi (#4153, Methodist Girls’ School) — 16:39.5
B Division Girls’ Team Results – Top 4
1st Methodist Girls’ School — 44 points
2nd Cedar Girls’ Secondary — 49 points
3rd Raffles Girls’ School — 75 points
4th CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School — 92 points
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